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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  September 18, 2015 10:00pm-12:01am EDT

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[inaudible conversation] [inaudible conversation] the c-span network features weekend full of politics, books in american history. saturday morning beginning at 930 on c-span, we are c-span, we are live from manchester for the new hampshire democratic convention. speakers include five presidential candidates. hillary clinton, bernie sanders, martin o'malley and lawrence
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lessig. a conversation with carter and a discussion of health topics from around the world. saturday night at 11, former vp dick cheney dick cheney and his daughter, former deputy assistant of state on their book exceptional which looks at form policy. on c-span three, saturday starting at noon, we are live from georgia for a commemoration a commemoration of the 13000 union soldiers who'd died during the civil war and the confederate military prison camp questions will be taken before and after the ceremony by phone, facebook and twitter. sunday out for on real america,
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pope john paul ii as they address the united nations. get our complete schedule at c-span.org. >> next u.s. ambassador to the un, samantha power. she talked about the upcoming meeting in the general assembly later this month. she answered questions about russes support of the assad regime. this is just under one hour. today we have samantha power. this is her first visit with our dining club. many of her predecessors have
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been our guest in the past. she came to the united states from ireland when she was nine. she has a bachelors degree from yale and a masters degree from harvard. she wrote a stirring op-ed for the washington post calling for the government to do more to win the relief of the hostage reporter. she won a pulitzer prize for her book, problem from hell. she went on to become a professor at harvard kennedy school of government and the founding center for human right policy. she was a specialist assistant to the president and advisor on multi- it lateral affairs. she and her husband are the
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parents of two young children. thus ending the biographical portion of the program, now on to mechanics. we are on the record here. no live blogging or tweeting and no filing of any kind while the breakfast or lunch is underway. give us time to listen to what our guest said. there is no embargo when the session ends. to help you curb the self the urge, we will email several photos of the session as soon as the lunch ends. regular attendees know if you want to ask a question, please do the traditional thing and send me a settle nod and i will call on one for all the time we have available. i'm going to allow her to make some opening comments and then we will go to questions around the table. thank thank you for doing this. >> thank you for having me. i thought what i would do is dedicate a few minutes on the topic to talking about the
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upcoming general assembly. it is is the 70th anniversary of the united nations, and more heads of state are defending on new york then we have seen and the like of this administration. we have historians looking to see if more than ever before. of course the pope is also visiting. it is going to be a bad time to be driving on the east side of manhattan with all the visitors. perhaps because it is the anniversary, perhaps because the secretary-general is entering the last year of his term and of course we are in election season for the presidency, for a host of reasons there are is a lot of soul-searching in the un. there always is. every general assembly as people
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reflect on the year that has come before, but this year it is more pronounced than usual. on the one hand you have the fact of the general assembly coming together again remind people where we were last year and one of the things that happened last year when pres. obama was there was that he and secretary-general used the high-level gathering gathering to try to mobilize international community around ebola. this time last year we were passing around charts that show you have a million infections by january of 2015 if the curb was not bent. now we are looking at the figures for this week are five cases. this time last year was close to 700 new case are in a went higher than that into the fall. that's unilateral work and it
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took a lot of cost and people died of ebola, but it was also an example of the international community building the airplane as they flew it in an important way. then of course the nuclear deal over iran is also something that has heartened not just the seer security counsel but the broader membership because there is a belief in new york, at least, that the un should work this way. you have a country a country acting in violation of international norms, the security council comes together and puts in place, over many years, incrementally more and more exacting ship sanctions regime, calling on that rogue country to come into compliance with international norms. that country comes to the table, we come we come to the table, we secure an agreement that on behalf of international peace and security cuts off iran's pathway to a nuclear weapon.
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so there is again, a sense that there is an exemplar of what the international community can do when it's united and when it's prepared to enforce its words. you have all of this on the one hand and then you have scenes of biblical processions from the coast of turkey descending on the doorstep of europe. whether they're from syria or afghanistan, this comes on the heels of seeing comparable images off north africa descending on italy earlier in the year. indeed the european union is coming to the un security council looking for an authorization to take a set of steps to try to stem the flow in a responsible way and then of course in east asia, the shift
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is floating and being claimed by nobody. they are putting everything on the line and sadly trusting very nefarious smuggling networks to promote the welfare of themselves and their family. if you need to more vivid testament to the commons, the ic, there is no more vivid testament than that. it really raises really raises questions about burden sharing and the syrian conflict in particular and the need of course, for the long elusive political solution to that conflict. just to briefly preview what pres. obama will be doing when he travels to new york for the general assembly, we are doing -- the first day he arrives he will participate in the summit in which sustainable development goals are embraced. these are goals that are the
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sequel to the previous millennium development goals which is called the post-2015 agenda. it's a series of goals to end inequality and extreme poverty for the first time it is an agenda that interweaves the environmental agenda and the need to take care of our oceans and curb carbon emissions and so forth into the anti- poverty, more traditional economic agenda. it's it's a very important set of goals and targets, but president obama will join other heads of states in embracing those goals and to lay out an agenda for implementation. these are goals that will take us another 15 years and the mbg has had a very interesting and unexpected effect in that you started to
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see ministers in the developing world measuring themselves and their performance on the basis of how they were faring next to these goals. literally report cards on malaria or on girls education. now we have a new set of goals and donors will channel resources around those goals. it's an important agenda and gets -- if these goals are realized which is very ambitious, some of the causes of conflict would be addressed. we can't just deal with conflict, we have to deal with the root cause of conflict. the two more points just on his schedule and then i'll wrap up, he will also, on his second day in new york, convened, convene along with a number of other heads of state and secretary-general and unprecedented peacekeeping summit. why peacekeeping? the united states united states doesn't have a large number but it turns out we are calling on
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un peacekeepers to do more and more in more places and more difficult places than ever before, and the supply of peacekeepers is being outstripped. one only needs to read the newspaper to know how outstripped it is by the demand. there have been some noteworthy changes in peacekeeping since some of us covered the balkans. it used to be european peacekeepers were about 40%. today europe only constitutes, there's only 6000 european peacekeepers and they are only at about 6%. you have a situation where you
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have developing countries doing the peacekeeping and developed countries like the united states and other big donors to the un paying for it. it's extremely important that the capabilities of these missions have in places like molly and the central republic that extremism can fester that those capabilities be enhanced. the mandates have gotten more robust than they were 20 years ago. the. the capabilities of those troops on the ground are not what they need to be. indeed the the ability to even know what is coming at them. in parts of motley, it's hard to know which extremists are where. it's it's a real liability. president obama spent the last years working with the secretary general of the un to try to mobilize troops and police from other countries. it's a pledging constance so now we have more than 40 heads of state who have signed up.
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in order to speak, they have to make an announcement about what new they are going to be contributing. it's. it's a very unusual type of event. lastly, i know something on everyone's mind, the president's final day in new york, he will convene a summit on counterterrorism. he will have three segments. there will be one on the anti- terror coalition and a sequel to what he did last year at the general assembly which was he chaired a meeting where he discussed foreign terrorist fighters and figuring out ways to share information and the third segment will be countering violent extremism. you would say these are all overlapping and they are to some extent but it's
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countering violent extremism has to include religious leaders, society society leaders and civil leaders. in course you have to capture people before they become extremism. these are the three prongs of the counterterrorism, counter isil. you will have different countries participating in each of these segments but the meeting is one pres. obama is obama is convening. the last thing i will say. >> the last, last thing. >> i just want to say a word about something we've been doing and it's a campaign called free the 20. pres. sheehy and un women are going to convene a high-level
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meeting, head of state meeting, 20 years since the beijing summit on women's empowerment. unfortunately around the world, including china, there are many women who will not be participating in this conference and are not participating in civic life because they have been imprisoned for actually speaking up against sexual harassment or corruption, etc. every day leading up to this event that will be convened, we are profiling one woman political prisoner and i have a little chart. we have a visual. indeed the the visual is each woman's picture will be hung so as heads of state and others walk in they will be able to see the prisoners who are being profiled. we are working actively,
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diplomatically to secure the release of these women. many have been in jail for a long time. i just wanted i just wanted to draw your attention to that. thank you. >> we will go right to my colleagues. i will do one by one. >> this is the first time in ten years that he will attend a un ga. the number one issue will be now that it has toned down a bit from syria and the fact that there are troops there and the fact that his foreign minister has talked about an antiterrorist front, how does the united states handle this
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given the fact that the united states is opposed to any type of intervention that will stabilize assad, and yet the united states, actually, when you think about it, shares an interest in keeping assad where he is to prevent the creation of a power of a power vacuum into which other groups could move and create even more chaos in syria. >> let me address the assad question first. it is a myth that assad and his laborers have been directed at isil over the time in which isil
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has est. a safe haven for itself in syria. indeed i believe the unit new york times documented a whole series of transaction between isil and the syrian regime. all the assessments show that in terms of the attraction of jihad ease, the ongoing tactics that he pursued in trying to retain power, arresting protesters or anybody suspected of dissent and then the mass torture that has occurred in syrian prison, these, as my british colleague said yesterday, every barrel bomb that syria and assad drop is a gift to isil.
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so we have made clear from the beginning that it is going to require a robust coalition to defeat isil. the idea that doubling down on the assad approach to counter insurgency, namely to treat isil and moderates and civilians and hospitals as equally worthy targets, that is a difficult approach. our shared interest is an interest that we share with russia and that is degrading and defeating isil. the approach of of supporting a regime that has helped fuel the rise of isil, that is a misguided approach and it's not the approach that we will take. >> michael gordon from the new york times. >> i would just like to ask a
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follow-up on that question. jonathan remarked on the russian military moves, but in the diplomatic sphere i would like to ask you to related questions. the russians have suggested they are not wedded to any personality in syria or wedded to assad. in your experience has there ever been a serious proposal by the russians to work with the united states with an eye toward political transition in which assad is out of power? have they ever propose that or in the to assad? lastly, they imploded the
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russian talks as a serious situation, do you think that would be a useful step to take at this juncture? the russians assertion is that they would be going after the islamic state. thank you. >> thank you, let me say just a couple things about russia's posture toward political talk. first, russia russia has embraced, from the beginning the creation of a transitional governing body by consent. on on one hand it gives the government and the assad regime assay in what that transitioning governing body looks like but it also gives the opposition would
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not agree to something where assad stayed. i know some of these news reports have stepped up military supplies and the council actually agreed to a statement supporting efforts which include, and we we explicitly wrote this into the statement which was adopted by consensus, basically negotiation to give rights to a governing body. there is a refresh in which again they signal that. you know we have been engaged in secretary kerry has been engaged with intense conversation with stakeholders in the region in
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order to see, again, what kind of flesh one could give to that idea of a transitional governing body and moscow has been inviting to its capital opposition politician as well as regime politicians as a way to get a sense of the opposition in who's who. that is what i've described which is part of their investment in the political process they claim that not withstanding this apparent infusion of military hardware to still be committed to a solution and that is why we are engaging with them at the highest levels to try to convey that it is not
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possible to defeat isil while supporting assad and to stress again is no military solution. if any actor goes all in on the military side, as there is a risk of happening now, that will just prolong the conflict, enhance the risk of chemical weapon use and over time, strengthen isil's hand. that is our message up to this point. the extent of our dialogue at this point is diplomatic. we have have not had military contact on this. >> i think we are talking in diplomatic channels.
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>> can i do a follow-up on diplomatic channels question right there was a story in the new york times this morning about a possible meeting between president obama and vladimir putin where they would talk about syria. >> i can't speak to the general assembly schedule, there are a lot of questions like that that can be asked but we will announce it at any meetings we have a soon as we have scheduled them. >> thank you i also had a question about syria, but very quickly, before that on ukraine, do you you have any information about blocking assistance moving into that region? is that something something you can confirm or something you've heard something about? >> the has been a recurring problem. i don't know if it's a specific shipment shipment or convoy that you're referring to but i'll get back to on that. >> my bigger question is that now that the european seems to have refocused attention,
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certainly by congress on the syrian issue and there's a series of hearings this week, both republicans and democrats don't seem to be voicing their opinion that the strategy isn't working. it's it's not fast enough such as it is and they said recently they thought it was a stalemate after a year of the air campaign. there are increasing calls for forward movement on some sort of safe zone or something that would change the equation there. i'm wondering if you have seen the same feelings among your security council colleagues that are part of the coalition. are they advocating for a change in policy? is there more pressure to change the military strategy in any way that would stop the exodus that
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would stop isis advance and whether to engage with or against assad. can can you also update us on the status of the efforts at the moment? >> i think for all of the dissatisfaction with the horrors on the ground and graphically embodied, hb by the death of the young boy on the beach and so many other families who have suffered so much and now are more visible because they are descending into european cities, they are on the hill, and everywhere else, a great number of views on what should be done. they really run the gamut and
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that's true also, i think, on the question of the refugees and the safe zone question and the question on the anti-isil campaign. i think in the security council you see something comparable. certainly there is an urgency in light of the european discussion about quotas and settlement and how to cut off the problem at the source so these flows abate so those who have moved can be taking care of but the system doesn't overload. you have that strand, but recall in the security council you have an approach embodied by some of the comments michael alluded to and jonathan alluded to by russian officials, that says the way to deal with this problem is to double down with the regime that caused this problem.
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the core differences of what the root causes are of the refugees and the rise of isil and the suffering, and what the solution is, those fundamental differences, certainly we are very interested in the wake of the iran deal and taking advantage of the unity and what i described at the beginning as a positive feeling about what unity can yield in new york, but without -- we need to get past this fundamental disagreement in terms of what the cause of terrorism is and how to combat it. so that was the vision that do not appear to have abated, notwithstanding that we have more meetings and more
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heartbreak, it hasn't changed yet the fundamental calculus on the part of the assad regime and those who support it >> the kinds of things that are being said, do since there's interest in what is going on among those diplomats and their leaders, what are you hearing? >> i have to give ashad diplomatic answer. [laughter] i have not done ashad straw
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poll, but my guess on the basis of the feedback i get in the hall is the unprecedented viewership of of the republican debate that some significant share, some modest share of that spike came from other countries ambassadors watching the debate. in other words i think there is more interest at this stage in the election and some of the more colorful aspects of the primaries that there may have been in the past. there is ashad deep interest in who runs america. and tell things sort of settle you don't hear about and you can
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tune you to exercise leadership in accordance with international quorums. you continue to want to build multilateral coalitions and appreciation for what president obama has tried to do in terms of engagement and perceiving to the un peacekeeping and even more appreciation to those investments. >> will go to yet los angeles times. >> you have made very clear that you think there is a difference on premises, there is doubling down on the side is - it's
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possible for an optimist to look at that and say maybe russia is doing two things at the same time. maybe something is worth exploring. when you when you say they are doubling down essay is that a warning or what the intentions are. is there anything on the diplomatic track worth exploring with the russians? >> we are going to continue in the aggressive way that secretary kerry has been added over the past weeks to engage russia diplomatically. i do the same in new york every day with my russian counterparts. we mean what we say, there has to be a political solution, solution, there is no military solution. in terms of what russian intentions are in this moment, i think that is another reason to continue the dialogue and to
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make plane again the perspective i have made here which president obama articulated on friday. also take note of the fact that we all take interest in defeating eisele and as the president said on friday, isil does pose a threat that is going to get president putin's attention. it is extremely important, in addition to collectively figuring out how to bring about a solution to syria and its own sake, it is clear that solution is over time to being able to wipe out a movement ensconced itself in a part of syria. i'm not passing judgment about what the intentions are but i think some of the comments that senior russian leadership have
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made suggest asides military approach needs help. fundamentally we believe the political track if not your country will be destroyed if you don't see fit you don't see them in a manner not everyone in syria to put their guns down. the goal is to put a critical mass of actors to embrace a settlement and all of us will be in a stronger position against eisele. >> comments for the national journal. >> how concerned are you on the developments of, and secondly
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with pres. coming next week it's hard to remember to build up in recent years, why shouldn't we expect that summit to be a train wreck? >> let me take the china question first. i will ask my colleague to flush out and supplement. as everyone has said this is a very complex relationship. every day, whether it is on south sedan or an anti- isil fighter in new york or the peacekeeping summit where china
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has dramatically expanded its contributions to peacekeeping in the last five years, we are working with china on issues that are very much in the u.s. national interests. by the same token, whether it is on cyber threats, freedom of navigation, human rights, one of the most important features of free the 20 campaign is china's hosting this event-what you'll see is plainspoken, public comments about our disagreements and not papering over our comments which we disagree. engaging in internal meeting where we hope to be in a better position where our positions are heated and we start to see changes in things that are troubling.
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in general, the approach of this administration which has served us well is on areas of disagreement, especially areas of disagreement as serious as those that will come up on this visit, it is extremely important to engage-and the president is an extremely powerful leader of a country that is extremely important on the global stage. that kind of dialogue, at that level is something you want to take advantage of to a mock progress. on northern ireland i would say the situation is very worrying. traditionally, i know this is someone who comes traditionally from ireland, the united states role is always welcomed. we are in a situation now where
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it is politics as usual and as far as the parties themselves have taken responsibility for implementation of the agreement, and fundamentally whatever nudging the united states can do from behind the scenes, ultimately this is something that needs to be settled with the parties on the ground. >> i don't have more with that actually. we can be in touch after if you have more details. >> rachel from cq luke go. >> they said the obama and administration plan to accept refugees they said the country should be willing to accept a hundred thousand refugees, what you think of that? laster the president talked about the ebola request can you anticipate a similar request and will that funding be used here or go to u.s. programs on the
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ground elsewhere question mark. >> thank you for the question which is extremely important. up to this point the united states has received 17000 referrals, cases which have, candidates were eligible for settlement. the president has made clear in the number we have been able to settle isn't sufficient and we need to expand that significantly in the next fiscal year. i would note over the life of the obama administration we have managed to settle 0,000 iraq he refugees and candidates which has gotten less attention. it has been an up-and-down program and we have made significant improvement in
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systems. we were able to welcome people in desperate need and make sure we have the screening and measures in place where we would have confidence people coming into the country are not taking advantage of the program. who are plotting or doing something to national security. the system in place again has been strengthen over time. the flow of iraq he shows that. the startup costs around the syria program have been significant, we have to break through that. in terms of what the overall number will be next year, we continue to assess that. this is an issue of acute urgency. it is important that at a minimum we go from 1600 to
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10,000. their diverse views on the hill as a what a what the top line should be for a refugee program as a whole. and how many syrians we should take. this traditionally is done in a manner where we come to some consensus with folks on the hill. the conversation is just picking up and we welcome the proposals and consider it carefully. we need to make sure that all of us collectively who have had the experience of working with refugee families from any country that we the american people view themselves as messengers of the kind of country we have been over the time. too often, and the political season the loudest voices are ones that are very unwelcoming toward people coming from other countries, yet most americans
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have the experience of feeling the great pride we all feel. in terms of those we have been able to shelter in times of great need. >> the appropriate nations. >> the united states has given far more than any other country in terms of the un appeals and our preference at that refugees of the first few years was to stand by and hope they'll be returning home soon. they would stay in countries like jordan and lebanon where they have the same language and would be able to better integrate then when they're moving into new cultures and new communities. the united states has spent what $.4 $4 billion over the life of this crisis, inside syria and the neighboring countries.
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2.1 billion on refugees alone. yet, the un appeals are underfunded. indeed, just two weeks ago thousands of refugees in lebanon were sent a text message by saying their food rations would be cut off. that is becoming a routine occurrence. one of the things we'll use with the pope's visit and the general un assembly is to try to leverage our contributions and try to mobilize contributions from other countries who have not been as generous as the united states has been up to this point. on the financial side, the private sector, foundations, there are a lot of people who are deeply moved by what there seem inside syria and in the
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neighboring areas. the united states has a long tradition of combining government resources with that of nongovernmental actors. president obama is ready to use his pulpit to move people in other communities. >> the obama administration responded by saying they would evaluate their approach to a solution. there has been talk of another resolution, with the u.s. do what we have done in the past and be supportive of our resolution with yahoo? >> i can't speak about
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hypotheticals. in my world every day there are different initiatives that are floated while very focused on isolating icicle waiting tensions. it is a very destabilizing situation right now. what would happen at the security council, it is very hard to say what we would do. i can say president obama as i said with anything that would undermine his security or bias, or one-sided, the united states would oppose. we oppose something like that in december just list last year, december 2014, where a resolution was put forward which
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was imbalanced and not something that would have advanced the cause of peace in the middle east. just last week there was an effort to raise the palestinian plague. i made clear and voting against the resolution that the status quo was not attainable. there has to be negotiations toward a two state solutions. you can't short-circuit the very difficult issues that parties have not been able to get past up to this point. we have never reassessed the depth of our relationship with israel out of the iran chapter
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here. we will be sitting down with the israeli officials and thinking about how we deal with other kinds of threats that iran poses to the region. or other forms of threats. as part of those discussions the un issues will arise. >> will you do some negotiating, another five minutes, we are happy to do either. we will do five minutes more. >> thank you ambassador. last week in the house of representatives a bipartisan group of members introduced a resolution recognizing islamic states, targeting of christian and other minorities as genocide which would have legal implications. this is an issue that is near and dear to your own heart, what is generally your response and
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is this something, everyone wants to see the defeat of isil. is this one of the issues that can find more, cause cause than the other big picture issues? >> certainly at the united nations and you'll see the surround president obama summit there is widespread unity. needless to say there is no one in any meeting defending what isil is doing. there is broad unity on the need to come back them and recognition there has to be a military component to that. having said that, and president obama will say this at the summit, there has been
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insufficient progress since last year in terms of information sharing, changing laws to prevent travel to those who may be contemplating joining isil or going to training. we have our work cut out first. there is consensus on the nature and the gravity of the threat. isil has asserted its tentacles since last year in additional, new parts of the world. you have even more countries coming forward and wanting to work together to think through how to bring about isil defeat. it will be extremely important for every country to be in full compliance with the resolution 2178, for more countries to contribute to the training and to the military effort in iraq
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and syria. this is a question of moving beyond an abstract consensus to true burden sharing. particularly this will be a long campaign. on the genocide question, when president obama decided to intervene militarily on behalf of he himself also invoked the prospect of genocide. there is no doubt minority of a certain groups with isil has proven a death sentence for many. if not not a death sentence, certainly a displacement sentence. having said that, sunni, and isil territory are also living under horrific hardship. anybody suspected of dissenting
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or in opposition of isil rule, you see whole tribes and families wiped out. while isil is targeting specific minority groups as such, it's monstrance ideology applies well beyond ethnic national religious groups to anybody who doesn't share its world view. >> we have time for one more, i apologize in advance for several people who are still waiting. >> i wanted to ask you about the pope visit. i be interesting if you could tell us about the u.s. vatican relationship that in ways that may not be obvious. when you talk to people, you talk about both the possibility of how transformational that
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visit could be in terms of american public life and the complexity of both welcoming someone from technically who is head of state but you are not doing it like you would normally do, and who can be so unscripted and hard to predict what he will do. can you talk a little bit about how one takes advantage of this moment. >> i will be more modest in my response. it sounds like you have done a lot of thinking about this. i will have the privilege both of getting to be part of an administration that is welcoming the pope in washington that he will also speak to the united nations. i'm thinking about this from the standpoint of how is the pope moving global public opinion on a set of of issues
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that are very important to the american people and of course to the collective good. i would only note that we are in crunch time when it comes to the climate, debate and climate negotiations. through a series of bilateral engagements by president obama himself, most recently with traveling and following up on the work john podesta has done, the united states is in a strong position again to lead by example. not all of the major admit or zara would where we would like to see them. the pope has tremendous sway well beyond his catholic flock. his message in new york will be extremely important in helping
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all of us in the international community try to take significant steps to save our planet. to put it mildly. if i could note, as someone else said, this refugee crisis is something that he himself has oak and so eloquently on in the past. i forget how he put it but the globalization and his trip, as one of his first acts to meet with migrants. one of his first very by pope standards pope speeches is on the immigrant flow out of africa. again the un appeal is underfunded, this is a contested issue within our own country as people grapple with how to balance security concerns and the desire to be generous.
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we very year-to-year what the pope says and there is a nice convergence on the timing of this trip. we really need to establish, weather and climate or in dealing with the acute needs of the syrians and the 60 million refugees who execs globally. when a more hands on deck hopefully the pope can use his clout to get us there. >> thank you for doing this. we appreciate it very much. >> the pope's visit to the u.s. c-span has coverage from washington d.c. the first stop on the pope's to her. tuesday afternoon at 3:45 p.m. live to greet the pontiff. wednesday morning on c-span and c-span radio, the welcoming ceremony for the pope as obama
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officially welcomes into the white house. i've coverage begins at a 45 eastern. the mass in canada to the nation at the basilica of the national shrine of the immaculate conception, thursday morning at 8:30 a.m. pope francis makes history. friday morning at 10, live coverage from new york has the pope speaks to united nations general assembly on c-span three, c-span radio, and c-span.org. at 1130 c-span.org. at 1130 the pope a hold of multi- religious service, follow c-span's coverage. our road to the white house
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coverage of the presidential candidates continue saturday morning with a new hampshire democratic party convention, live from manchester. manchester. speakers include by presidential's candidates, clinton, sanders, chafee, o'malley, saturday 930 eastern sec c-span. c-span's to campaign 2016 taking you taking you on the road to the white house. >> on the next "washington journal", adam brand him with freedom works will talk about the removal of congressman john banner from his position as house speaker. the possibility of a government shutdown. later issues important to black women in campaign 2016, melon d campbell and editor-in-chief of essence magazine, vanessa will join us. "washington journal" live every
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morning at seven am eastern on c-span. we welcome. we welcome your comments on facebook and twitter.efonfiveeln >> u.s. offense officials say after nine minutes of training syrian rebels to fight isis thev have only four or five rebels on the battlefield. here the chair of the senate armed services committee, john mmitin and jack reed. >> good morning, the servicens committee meets today to receivc testimony on the military operations to counter isil. i want to thank our witnessesobe and general austen for appearing before us today and their continued service termination. it has been one year, sinces. pres. obama spoke to the nation about threat posed by isil. increased military operations
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against us. many of us believe the gold the president laid out, quote to degrade and ultimately destroy isil, is right. many of us agree with the military strategy that seeks to empower local forces in iraq and syria to combat isil. with u.s. and coalitionis training. one year into this campaign, it seems impossible to assert isil is losing and we are winning. if you are not winning in this kind of warfare, you are losing. stalemate is not success. it is accurate, that we are conducting thousands of airstrikes against isil, trucks and fighters, bunkers and buildings. this conjures the illusion of progress but what effect does that have? isil has lost some territory ons the margin, but they haveraq consolidated control of its core territories and expanded its control and syria.d it continues to dominate in iraq tak syria. it maintains control of key cities and efforts to retake
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those territories appear to have stall. meanwhile isil has expanded globally. it is now operating in afghanistan, yemen, libya, and egypt. other radical islamic groups in nigeria and in somalia have whih pledged allegiance to isil. this appearance of success only enhances isil's success to radicalize, to radicalize, recruit and grow. reports suggest cia's manpowerni has remained constant. despite u.s. airstrikes which suggest either that they were wrong to begin with or isil is replacing its losses in real-time. neither is good. indeed, this committee is disturbedt by recent whistleblowers allegations that officialos at central command spewed intelligence assessments
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to paint an overly positive picture of conditions on the ground. we are currently investigating these allegations which we take with the utmost seriousness. the department of defense should as well.hountsil. those responsible must be held accountable. ultimately it is not we areeve doing nothing to counter isil, it is there's no compelling reason to believe that anything we arediro currently doing willn sufficient to achieve our strategic objective to degrading, and ultimately destroyed isil. the unites states and our partners do not have the initiative, our enemies do. sipitalizing on our inadequate policies to enhance their initiative as they have for the past fournd years. indeed the situation on the ground is now taking it another dramatic turn for the worse atie several recent events make clear. recent published reports state u.s. officials believe isil is using mustard gas. they may even be met near fracturing these weapons by themselves. stock if i sell is manufacturing them
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themselves or acquiring themates from others, this is a potential nightmare scenario for our partners in the middle east and for us.at fai at the same time, the united states effort to train and equip syrian rebels to fight isil is clearly, and unfortunately failing. the goal was 3000 fighters in the first year. instead, this program has trained and equipped only 54 fighters, some 54 fighters, some of whom were killed and captured by al qaeda as soon as they return to syriay this program promised a groundec force and syria has yet to produce any significant effects on the battlefield. to be sure, the fixation withh administration's requirement congress and administration is contributing to this failure. far worse, the ministrationsil requirement that this new force could only fight isil, not the aside regime.ize
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which has killed far more syrians than isil. unfortunately, these country addictions were clear from the s beginning. many members members of this committee warned the administration to cd hange cour, the failure to do so has squandered time, money, and ma credibility. this committee, to continue supporting this program we needd major changes.elsee he into this packet has stepped back amir.ng he perceives the administration caution as weakness and he is taking advantage.ts according to reports has deployed strike aircraft, f howitzers, personnel carriers, russian marines and housing for up to 1500 personnel in militar bases in western syria.
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this is an expansion of russian power in the middle east that we have not seen inis decades. it will allow putin to prop up his indus play kingmaker in transition and ultimately prolong this horrific conflict. the main beneficiary will be isil. many of us have sent from the beginning, the conflict in syria will not be contained and for four years we have seen evidence of that. hundreds of thousands dead, millions of displaced people, the use of chemical weapons, the worst terrorist army in the world. we are seeing the latest manifestation of this failed policy, the blood of people in the middle east which has led to the worst refugee crisis in europe since world war ii. the administration has promised to accept 10000 refugees in the coming years.
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unless we address the cause of this crisis, which is the continued grinding conflict in syria, the refugees will keep coming. isil will grow stronger, middle east will descend into chaos, and u.s. national security interests will be put at greater risk. for four years, we have been told there have no military solution to this conflict. if anyone anyone believes there is, and there no good options, as if any but he believes there are, then our influence is limited. if that has not always been the case. we will not succeed overnight as if our problem is one of time not policy. we cannot solve every problem in the middle east as if that absolves us of the responsibility to make it better where we can.
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this is not a question of our capacity or capabilities, or our options. we have options between doing nothing and abating iraq and syria. members of this committee have suggested such options for years now. they are still relevant. we need to put an end to aside the ability to use airpower against his people. especially the use of horrific barrel bombs. shoot down planes that drop bombs that slaughter innocent civilians. it is one of the leading killers of said innocent civilians. we need safe zones where people can be secure. we need air controllers to add precision to our air campaign. we need to make significant changes to improve and expand our syrian and iraqi forces. while no one believes that we need to invade iraq or syria, the fact is we will likely need additional u.s. special forces
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and military advisers to be successful. i hope our witnesses will not repeat our desired policy goals and a list of tactical achievements and talk about quote, nine lines of effort. we have heard all of that before. we have yet to hear a theory of victory. i hope to hear one today. senator reid. senator reid. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. this morning's hearing continues the review of the operations to counter isil in iraq and syria and its growth in the middle east. to its extreme tactics included reported develop a brief chemical weapons, isil has gain control and erasing the border between the countries of syria and iraq. they have carried out horrific attacks on ethnic and religious minorities. to escape the violence of isil,
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the regime and other elements millions have been replaced or flat outside of iraq and syria. the refugees has added to the sense of urgency. the military campaign against isil remains complex. the coalition coalition has success of pushing isil out of some territory, we have taken to, the self-described islamic state continues to hold key cities. the iraq security forces has struggled over the last few months. at the same time, iranians missions have stalled. despite recent setbacks, isil is consolidating its control of the local populations in the areas
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in syria and iraq. a recent agreement between the united states and turkey in seeking to create an isil free zone is an important step forward. the provocative deployments of rush russia appears to be an effort to prop up the regime. these events have raised concern of the current load of our efforts against isil is sufficient. while the us-led air campaign had an effect integrating isil, effective forces forces that can take full advantage of airpower and sees ground for isil essential to success.
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in iraq we need to equip forces. i'm concerned by the report that sunnis and the government iraq is slow to equip forces. according to public reports it has asked experienced a variety of setbacks. we will be interested in your set. i hope you will address what might be done to intensify to counter isil throat? would you provide advisers when iraq administers of this fence to --dash the isil problem is not geographically bounded by syria and iraq. indeed as chairman pointed out
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isil has appeared in yemen, afghanistan, nigeria, and others. i am interested in your assessment of the group's growth in the region and how it is contributing to france's effort to combat. ultimately the success of the will depend on nonmilitary actions as well. whether the international coalition including states in the region can effectively counter isil's propaganda, financing and the spread of its extreme ideology. whether a political situation can be found. these issues are the primary responsibility of the
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department of defense. i would assume these are integral to combating isil threat. i hope you'll also, to the extent possible given the ongoing review, address questions about the intelligent assessments in respect to isil. it is important to wait before being completed before making judgment. i have no doubt you will take such allegations as seriously as we do in congress. like senator mccain i assume you'll be active in terms of the recommendations. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you chairman and and members of the committee. thank you for the opportunity to be here today to give you an update on the military aspects of our counter isil campaign. it is a pleasure to be here with general austin. we work closely together so it's nice to be here with him today.
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as the chairman said it has been over a year since the united states sent a coalition of patient began a military campaign against isil. when we began a campaign about a year ago, isil was pushing into kurdish territory over the past 12 months they have lost area and syria and iraq. progress has been slow but steady. there have been setbacks in the past year. while not 10 feet tall, isil remains an enemy evolving to conditions on the battlefield. our training and equip programs have faced challenges. in iraq the pace has moved slowly then we would have liked. and syria that criteria we used in the outside of the program has contributed to's small in numbers that we had hoped for. as the military campaign continues in both countries we expect there to be challenges in clearing and holding territory. we have seen progress in the
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past year. you're familiar with the successful operations to take back kurdish territory in iraq to defeat isil and to more recently retake the crit as well as other successful engagements. on the political front, prime minister continues to demonstrate the result necessary to confront isil he is striving to manage what is a very difficult political landscape in baghdad. in syria, we have seen opportunities emerge we did not see a year ago. particularly in the northern part of the country where kurds and arabs have successfully pressured isil along the border. over a year ago the president outlined a government strategy to degrade and defeat isil, he emphasized he emphasized it would be a multiyear campaign. when sec. carter was here he outlined the nine lines of effort that comprise our strategies so i won't go over them again a detail.
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i will emphasize it would take more than the military campaign to be successful. we also need to dry up isil's finances, stop the flow of foreign fighters, protect the united states from potential attacks from isil, provide humanitarian assistance in areas we are taking back from isil, and find a way to more effectively counter isil's very successful messaging campaign. as secretary carter said to the committee the administration believes we have the right strategy in place. we are focused on implementing the strategy as effectively as possible. this is an interagency effort across all of the departments and agencies involved. sec. carter and sec. carey have been meeting together with their senior staff to monitor and identify issues in the campaign. they are meeting tomorrow to focus on foreign fighters.
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denying isil safe haven and partners of passage. the coalition campaign has degraded isil's military military capacity and remove some of its key leaders in iraq and syria. the isf has regained control from isil earlier this year and searing kurds and sunni arab partners have taken key border town in syria. this severed isil's key line of communication and supply. it put isil on the defensive. these examples demonstrate how when we have credible ground forces, and we support them with our airpower, isil can suffer. we are working hard to build the capacity of our forces on the ground. since we began, we have trained more than 60 brigades and trained more than 13000 iraq key
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personnel. we have more in the pipeline. secretary carter said in july, trading has been slowed by lack of trainees coming into the training site. over the past several weeks we have had better participation and iraq has expanded the pool of units eligible for training. some of the units we trained are now participating more directly in the fight in areas such as romani. they are performing well in con that missions but they face a difficult fight ahead. our forces on the ground are involved in advising sunni fighters, both through providing trek training and through train the trainer type of assistance with the iraq he security forces.
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in terms of equipping these fighters, we recently delivered a battalion's worth's worth of equipment to iraqi officials working with us there almost two airbases airbases to distribute the claimant to fighters. we are overseeing the distribution of the government of iraq equipment from these spaces. through these efforts we have more than 4000 sunni fighters. we are also in the early stages of our train and equip program. this effort is just one elements of what we're trying to do in the larger campaign and syria. this includes the increasing airstrikes and supporting partner forces on the ground like the searing kurds, sunni arabs and other forces to try to put pressure on isil. these efforts have substantially ruled isil back in this area. it has had significant impacts on their freedom of movement and supply line. as of september 15, our train
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and equip program, we are now currently training more than 100 fighters and have additional recruits in the pipeline. this number is smaller than we had hoped for, and part, we put our trainees through a very rigorous training process to meet standards that are laid out in u.s. law. we we closely aligned all of our efforts in these areas with 62 country coalition. an example of how we're doing that, turkeys decision for access to bases has enabled us to expand the fight and is strengthening the cohesion of our efforts in syria. i want to address russia's involvement. we are closely tracking russia's recent efforts to deploy additional military equipment and syria. both russia and iran have continued to support politically and militarily the a side regime
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have murdered their own people and create the current conditions. what we need in syria urgently is a political away from the regime. any efforts to - this is a difficult problem to face. we are not going to solve it quickly we are dynamically adjusting our campaign to rapidly changing battlefield. it is going to take leadership, struck from us on the coalition as well as commitment and sacrifice from local forces in iraq and syria. thank you. >> good morning i want to thank you for the opportunity to appear here today to provide a current update on the progress
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achieved over the past year in support of the ongoing campaign to counter isil in iraq and syria. i i am pleased to appear here this morning along with ms. warm off. we are most grateful for her and for her continued strong support. i will join christine and opening a few brief comments and then we are prepared to answer your questions. before providing a brief update on the counter isil campaign, i wanted to quickly address an important issue. as chairman issue mentioned, there is an ongoing investigation looking into allegations concerning the processing of intelligence information by intelligence director. he cut his allegations are currently under investigation it would be premature and inappropriate for me to discuss this matter. i will say i welcome their oversight.
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once the investigation is complete, based upon the findings, you can be assured i will take appropriate actions. i cannot speak to the specifics of the allegations however i would like to take this opportunity to provide clarity with respect to how we use intelligence products. because of the nature of our mission we do have an rely on intelligence to support the command. there are over 12000, 1200 that make up that enterprise. as a commander i greatly value and seek their input and insights. i use the assessments they provide together with the inputs i receive from a variety of sources, it includes why commanders on the ground why talk to every day, i consider this broad range of inputs when i make decisions. there's been speculation about the allegations made and one in
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particular i should address for the record. some expressed concern that intelligence reports are sent directly to the president. this is not accurate. as the office of the director of national intelligence put out to the media last week and i quote, come back to man's are not allowed to, whether reports are produced by the commands and funneled through the dia to ensure all deliberations and final contributions are appropriately coordinated and of quote. i cannot comment on the specific allegations, we will need to wait for the complete investigation. i i wanted to provide this additional clarification. with respect to the ongoing operations in iraq and syria today, despite slow movement we continue to make progress on the battle space. in support of the broader u.s.
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strategy to degrade and defeat isil. key to the success of the military campaign is sustained pressure on isil both from the air and from the ground. and the approach we adopted relies on indigenous forces to create and sustain this pressure while also curbing the flow of fighters. in recent months, iraq's security forces have experienced setbacks. this is to be expected in an early stage of a fight as complex as this. overall, our, the iraqis continue to make progress. in northern iraq they're performed exceptionally well. the kurdish, arab coalition arab coalition in northeast syria is also achieving substantial effects. in fact over the past
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several months they have retaken more than 17000 square kilometers of terrain from the enemy. the effects they have achieved create significant opportunities that if pursued will be devastating to the animate enemy. again progress is being made and this is evidenced by what we see happening in the air and on the ground in both countries. i would point out that the progress is in large part the contributions made by our coalition partners. 60+ nation coalition represents the strength of this campaign. we campaign. we remain grateful for their strong support. success in the campaign will
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require the continued support of our coalition partners along with supportive elements of the government and international community. more importantly, it will require the iraqis do what is necessary to address their political challenges. reconciliation is essential to the success of the counter isil campaign. we said the military campaign would take time. it will take time. we should expect there will be occasional setbacks along the way particularly in the early stages. we need to keep in mind we are supporting and enabling this effort. our partners not us are in the lead. taking longer to get things done but it must be this way if we are to achieve lasting positive effects. fortunately, a mix the challenges we find opportunities. we remain confident that our actions in pursuit of these opportunities will continue to produce positive results in the coming days. mr. chairman, members of the committee i want to thank you for the strong support you show to our servicemembers, are our civilians and their families, their truly exceptional, they
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are making important and lasting contributions to the overall effort. we appreciate your support and i look look for to answering your questions. >> thank you. i've been a member of this committee for nearly 30 years and i never heard testimony like this. never. general austen on september 9, 1 week ago chairman dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said the fight against isil is tactically stalemated with no dramatic gains on either side. obviously you and outgoing chairman have a very different view of what the situation is. with all of this progress that you are citing, how long do you think it is going to take for us to defeat isil and to restore stability in iraq and syria?
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>> sir, it will take years. >> years okay. >> if i may comment on the chairman's comments. as i spoke to the chairman yesterday and we did talk about this issue, when i went back and took a look at what he said he also said, isil's future is increasingly dim as more nations joined the isil effort. although it is tactically stalemated with no traumatic gains on either side, isil will move at the speed of its governments not at the speed of its military capability. i agree with the chairman on the issue of there haven't been any dramatic gains on either side. >> dramatic. that's different than tactically stalemated. >> .. the exact same thing was said, so they're is clearly a disconnect between your view and that of our outgoing and incoming chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. in your view everything should remain as it is.
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do you think that we should have a no-fly zone and syria? >> that is a policy decision. i would not recommend it. >> would you recommend setting up a buffer zone in syria where the refugees might be able to come and be protected from the attacks and slaughter? >> it would take a ground force. >> would you support a buffer zone? >> i don't see the force available. >> we would not be able to shoot down his aircraft as they bomb and slaughter innocent men and women, is that correct?
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>> we clearly have the capability, yes. >> but you would not recommend such action? >> i would not. >> basically what you are telling us is everything is fine, as we see hundreds of thousands of refugees, now 250,000 syrians slaughtered, as you see more and more iranian control of the shia militia, the only ones that are really doing the fighting besides the pitch murder. as i say, i have never seen a hearing that is as divorced from the reality of every outside expert than what you are saying. does it have an effect on what you think we should be doing?
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>> i want to be clear that i think this is a horrible tragedy and it is something the entire and a national community will have to continue to work together on. we hope that these refugees continue to be disadvantaged that we see more countries joining in to assist. >> so you would not support a policy that would help protect these refugees from being slaughtered with barrel bombs? >> it is always in our best interest to help protect civilians. again, i would not recommend a buffer zone at this point in time. >> so everything is really going well. >> no, sir. that's not -- >> if things are not going well and we have had setbacks and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said the tactics have stalemated and pursuing the
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strategy and tactics on the ground i respectfully and fundamentally disagree. the refugees are results of it. you were there at the meeting. he would agree to keep a residual force. we never gave him the forces to leave behind, the departure of us completely from iniraq and set the table for the catastrophe that we are seeing. as i say, i have not attended a hearing that is so grossly distorted, terrible and tragic situation as i have seen from the witnesses. by the way, senator graham
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and i predicted everything that was happening now. i predict unless we do something different it will remain stalemated, which means tragedy. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. secretary and general, about a year or more there was real concern that isil was virtually unstoppable. has that been approved? >> greatly one of the fundamental issues related to the comment un general dempsey have made is, who will have the advantage going forward, isil or iraqi
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forces supported by the united states? >> clearly it is the iraqi forces supported by not only the united states that the 60 plus nation coalition. >> one of the things that has been suggested and recommended strongly to the iraqi government, the national guard units, sunni as well as others that formally allied with the government, and that legislation is bogged down. we could do more if the iraqis were willing to make changes in terms of their policy. they could contemplate the use of advises with the national guard, iraqi national guard units to distribute equipment as well
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as tactical advice. >> is it something you would consider? >> yes, sir. it is. >> a scathing report about the leadership or lack thereof suggesting that not every state could be trusted. leading up to this crisis over many years. >> sir, what we saw from the former prime minister was increasingly sectarian behavior and a number of bad decisions that led to the atrophy of the security forces. >> according to this report they attribute most of the blame of the disintegration
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at malik's doorstep. >> it is primarily his responsibility. those who he appointed in key leadership positions as well. >> in terms of your campaign plan, you have tried to exploit the area where we have the most centrist against isil while maintaining as much pressure as possible. i don't think anyone has seen the progress they've would like to see. is that accurate? >> it is, sir. government, of course we had
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access to things that could enable us to get the work, shaping operations in syria as we get increasing resources we are able to increase the tempo and syria , and so i think we will have greater affect going forward. >> finally, general comments because one of the recent developments is they seem to be much more cooperative in an operational cents. what do you expect in the next six months that will translate to on the ground? >> it will translate to more pressure on key areas in syria like the city of
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rocker which has long been a isil stronghold. because of that we will have the ability to increase and focus on key places in syria. that will certainly shape things in iraq. >> thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. chairman. when senator carter was here before this committee he testified that there were only about 60 syrian fighters that had been trained in our train and equip program. we have heard reports about the attacks on those individuals when they were reinserted back into syria. can you tell us what the total number of trained fighters remains? >> it is a small number.
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the ones that are in the fight, we are talking four or five. >> a new york times report on september 6 indicated that among the lessons learned from that experience was that these fighters should be returned to syria in larger numbers, obviously larger than the 45 that are there. do you agree? >> i agree. whenever that is possible it is in our best interest to make sure that we have an element that can protect itself and also go in and combine efforts with other elements on the ground. >> how do you plan to achieve that? increase the number of fighters on we are looking at the really tough security screening processes that are in place now. how will be achieved that?
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how long will that take? you mentioned earlier about increasing resources. i took that to mean increasing the number of fighters that you would place in syria and the effect that they would have. what is the time period we are looking at, and how will you do it? >> and i certainly agree that the knew syrian force program has gotten off to a slow start, but it is important to remember that this element is designed to be a complement to all of the other things that we are doing. we are going to use and are using every tool we have available in our inventory. our approach is to utilize indigenous forces to complement our work from the air on the ground. >> if i could interrupt you on that point, and i would
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like to get back to your answer. when you said complementing the work on the ground with airstrikes, did i just to you say that? >> they have to work in tandem. >> there is a new article out today. are we going to change strategy? i think it is in foreign policy today that it says the united states is drawing up a new plan that is going to send trained fighters into syria that will help direct airstrikes. is that report correct? >> i would just say that we will continue to look at the best ways -- the best means to employ these forces going forward, and capitalize on lessons learned. again, it is really about the full complement of indigenous forces that we have available to work with. as we mentioned earlier, the
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why pg, syrian kurds, and some have done tremendous work in northern syria pushing isil back the border, currently somewhere around 40 kilometers or so north of the capitol city of isil and will continue to pressure isil. the knew syrian force is additive to that effort. >> is it still the goal to have about 12,000 they're? what is the expectation? >> at the pace we are going will not reach the goal we had initially established for ourselves. the overall goal is to make sure we have enough to get worked on the ground, whether it is why pg elements or other elements,
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we can and are achieving the same effect. it is not aspirational. we are doing this today. >> and is the strategy changing for the work on the ground? >> we continue to look at the best means to employ them, and we will do what you would expect us to do and make adjustments as opportunities present themselves. >> thank you. >> just to follow-up, there is a foreign policy, anxious to avoid another damaging setback. looking at attaching small numbers of fighters to larger, established forces. can you confirm or deny that that option is being looked at?
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>> center, we are reviewing the way forward. >> i am asking if the option is being considered. >> we are looking at a range of options. >> i ami'm not asking you to come before this committee and obfuscate. i am asking you a direct question. yes or no? >> we are looking at that option as well as others. >> thank you very much. >> general, it is my understanding that general dempsey recently said if the us seized control of the campaign against isil we could speed up the defeat but that it would come at a great cost to our service members and that another group with another name would just be back in a couple of years. isn't that what you understand general dempsey to have said and reaffirmed
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here today? >> yes, ityes, it is. it is important that the people in the country in the region take ownership and work to put in place lasting solutions. if we do not do that back in another two to three years. >> and because of that campaign, it must be one by our coalition partners and the iraqis, not just us. >> that is correct, sir. >> would you care to read that statement again for clarity in your response to the chairman's question that general dempsey had said in its full context? >> yes, sir.
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what the chairman said was, the future of isil is increasingly dim is more nations join the anti- isil effort. further stated that although the fight right now is tactically stalemated the node dramatic gains on either side, they will move at the speed of governance and not the speed of its military capability. i would like to reassert this for general dempsey with your permission. they will include the assessments. >> of course.
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>> general, give us your assessment that russia is building up the military base and sending soldiers and weapons into syria to prop up a side under the guise of fighting isis? >> we are witnessing a buildup of forces in syria by russia. as you know, they have been there all along but are increasing the footprint. with a stated as they want to focus on helping to counter isil, as i understand it. that is left to be seen, and as you know, russia is not transparent. we don't know what their true intentions are. the interaction, potential
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interaction of additional capability and operations, utilizing that capability could increase the friction in that battle space significantly. >> general, the senate defense authorization bill calls for a 30 percent reduction in headquarters staff and cost at the department of defense starting with the seven and a half percent cut in fiscal year 2016. what impact will that have on your ability to conduct operations, and what is sent, if you want to submit for the record, planning to do to make that cut? >> if you take a look at what is going on in our region currently from pakistan, afghanistan, to
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yemen, to iraq and syria syria and to increase the tensions and other places throughout the region, it is clear we have an active region. so in order to manage the things that we need to manage and work with our partner nations in the region we need appropriate staff to be able to do that. the reduction of the line on the budget. we have to do what we can then need to do. it makes it increasingly difficult to get things done. >> i want to thank you for being here today.
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are we providing support and weapons of the syrian kurds? as i heard your testimony we only have four or five us train syrian fighters. what are we doing to support the syrian kurds if they are effectively pushing back isil on the ground? >> we are providing them aa tremendous amount of air support which is what they wanted. this is the element, a portion of the element with the folks that hung on at combined valiantly. it was doubtful as to whether or not they would be up to survive in that environment and continue to do things. they continued on an increase the size and activity and made a significant difference in the northeast part of the country. they have asked is sustained
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airpower strikes, and they have benefited from the strikes. becausebecause of their aggressiveness they have made a tremendous difference in the northeast. >> they have not asked for arms? how does turkey -- how is turkey acting on the ground here in terms of obviously what they have given them. how you view turkey's role in all of this. forty-five us train fighters , that is a joke. what more can we do to help? >> up to this point they have asked us for arms, but that does not mean that they want.
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of course you know, as we go forward there are things that we can do to continue to help as they try to get supplies into northern syria , work with the kurds in northern iraq to help ensure we have lines of communication that facilitate that. they need to partner with syrian arabs i think it is a combination of all these forces that is going to make a difference going forward. we expect a footprint to grow over time. ..
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what that we will mean, i don't know. >> perhaps if they had more cash and money they would like to provide more support to the regime. >> my assumption would be that that would be the case. >> i wanted to ask, issues with the train fighters, are we going to provide, if they are under attack, what are we going to do to support her protect them. we will provide overwatch.
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>> i am worried like the rest of my colleagues. there have bn a number of questions about the train and equip mission. the good news is if you give them aa job to figure out a way to get it done. the bad news is, they are not willing to say what it is not going to work. at what point in time do you envision us admitting that while all good intentions and on paper all the work was done, finding willing fighters it can be screened appropriately when you have the vast majority that feel
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victimized by the current situation are running for the exits. at what point in time and what is the discussion ongoing about the money you are requesting for next year? that seems very unrealistic. if we have successfully completed, and i believe you said the last information was 100. what is the number? >> senator mccaskill, it is between 10120. >> we are counting on our fingers and toes at this point. we had envisioned 5400 by the end of the year. i am worried that this is one of those instances where the good news about our military is dominating. we can do this, and the practical realities are not being fully embraced.
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>> thank you, senator. i absolutely agree. we have the finest troops in the world, and they will figure out a way to get the job done one way or the other. again,again, what our special operations forces have done in northern syria is, they did not wait for the knew syrian force program or train and equip program to fully develop. at the outset they began to engage elements like the why pg and enable those elements and are making a difference on the battlefield. and there are tens of thousands out there right now fighting isil. ..
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